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Feature Article: Areas of Failure

Area # 1
The student and instructor must enter into the program realizing that learning to fly has certain parameters that can make the process either easier or harder. Obviously, the more time, money, and resources available the better. A weakness in any of these areas is going to affect instruction, communication, and learning. Over half of all flight students never complete their flight training. The student would be well advised never to start with any of these parts showing deficiency. The instructor performs a disservice to the student and flying by starting someone who is ill prepared and qualified to finish.

Area # 2
Flying is learned best by total immersion. Practical limits prevent most people from this process. The result is a compromise by doing what is possible. Less time, less money and less communication results in less progress. At some point the student and instructor will recognize that the process is breaking down. Lessons decrease in frequency. Repetition creates a sense of no progress. Frustration affects both the student and instructor. The instructor starts pushing, the student feels even more pressured. Unhappiness reigns.

Area # 3
In the beginning the instructor will accept as normal a wide variation in performance. Everything seems to be progressing fine. Then, little by little the tolerance levels is narrowed. Altitude, headings, airspeeds, trim, and attitudes are going through changes leading to landings. Mistakes happen, are created, and are resolved in the process so that safety is not compromised. Student radio exposure increases. During this period student overload often occurs. The failure of a basic skill can bring progress to a halt.

Almost any basic skill can be responsible for requiring a basics refresher flight or two. Airspeed awareness in climb, turns, cruise, and descent has parameters that are essential to safety. Banking limits along with heading interceptions must be performed within relatively narrow limits. Anticipation takes the place of reaction. The time of performance is important many aspects of flight cannot be unduly delayed in the airport pattern know what to do, when and do it. Hesitation, delay, uncertainty, or mistakes must become a non-factor. Any lack of progress requires going back to basic procedures at altitude.

Area # 4
The instructor is beginning to feel the responsibility that goes with student solo. There are relatively few situations where responsibility for life and safety exposure exceeds that of a flight instructor. The student, too, is feeling this pressure from the instructor and is having mental and emotional qualms as the solo day nears. The flying culture has attached far too much emphasis on the solo. While it is indeed a significant step, it really means a change in the number of instructors. The solo student is his own instructor. Where the student fails to plan, take responsibility, practice, and study he fails as an instructor. Progress will plateau just at the time it should accelerate.

Area # 5
When a student is not making expected progress it is up to the instructor to come up with a plan. More frequent flights, more elaborate ground instruction, a revised procedure, a different airport, and partial panel to change visual focus. Don't keep beating the same process when it's not working. Get some variety into the lessons. The instructor may suggest experiments to find how the mental process may be misdirecting the physical performance. Maybe the instructor should demonstrate more frequently. Just perhaps, there is no solution for the existing problem between the student and instructor. Take a week off to concentrate on bookwork instead of flying. Get the written out of the way. The progress may be revitalized by contradictory actions. Taking a week off from flying and study can act as a refresher. Flying three days in a row has been known to get things going again. Just go together for an airplane ride. Every instructor will have his share of failures. Learn to live with this probability.

Last Modified May 28, ©2017 TAGE.COM

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