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Feature Article: Teaching The FAA Way

I have never seen the 60-14 textbook. I assume it is the revised Flight Instructor Handbook. I once made a complete summary of the old edition and became more and more frustrated in its pedantic presentations and terminology. As may be implied, the FAA preaches all the developmental theories and resorts to catechization and rote learning.

I must tell a 'war' story to explain how I got into teaching. I was taking aircraft radio at Truax Field, Madison Wisconsin during mid 1943. The better your grades the longer you got to stay in tech schools. The alternative was to become a B-17 machine gunner. Your 60-14 would call it motivation. I was fresh out of high school but found that I had acquired ability to regurgitate material back to my fellow students when we returned to the barracks. "He who teaches, learns twice." I took a good-sized group with me to Boca Raton, Florida for Radar training because of our collective good grades. I did the same teaching at Boca Raton and took nearly every course they had while continuing to help/teach my buddies.

Fifty radarmen were sent to India to join the newly activated 58th (B-29) Bomb Wing. When Saipan and Tinian were captured, we all went by plane or ship to the Pacific. I was almost immediately assigned to the Wing Training School to teach LORAN. Two months later I was given the job of assembling and operating the training program for the Supersonic Trainer. This was a bombing simulator that made it possible to see on a radar scope a very realistic radar picture as it would actually appear when in combat over Japan. In setting up target flights for the simulator I had to learn how to use the E-6-B and plotter. Twenty-five years later this experience gave me a leg-up in learning to fly. I have never liked to use the 'formal' lesson plan. Never used them when teaching children. I always prepared myself with the subject matter along with an ample supply of peripheral/related information, stories, and life applications.

Spent two hours with Lisa today doing ground school. We both had a great time. Lesson consisted of covering topics from the POH such as systems, weight and balance, emergencies, and aircraft performance. Using her own life experiences I was able to give her unforgettable examples of how Va works, how wings lift, how fuel gets out of the carburetor and some others I forget. We found that the POH was really deficient in giving a practical engine fire checklist. We found that it is useless to plan precise times and routes when winds are never as forecast. I showed her how best to learn to diagram the systems of the aircraft. She left enthused and even considering a flying career. As good as it gets.

You are going to learn the teaching of flying by making many mistakes. You are going to give students both good and bad habits, techniques, lessons and memories. An educational critic of my lesson with Lisa could, rightfully, say it was unorganized and disjointed. It was. Still before the material in the POH could be properly covered, I had to make sure that she had the required background. 60-14 would agree but you would choke on the vocabulary needed to make the point. It's called readiness.

I was told early on in teaching that it would take seven years to acquire teaching competence. If teaching had two years in a row as bad as the first year, there would be no teachers. Shortly after my 'college revolt' about wasting my time they began to put student teachers into the classrooms from the very beginning. That and the elimination of school administrators from the California Teachers Association are my two life-time achievements. Unintended consequences make these a dubious claim to fame.

If you read of my IFR logging experience where I sat in back while a CFI candidate gave instruction to a pilot, you are likely to find that such a procedure is very unusual. CFI preparation has no 'plan' for doing as I did. The candidate had no idea, by admission, of where to begin teaching the lesson. Candidate chose to watch as I demonstrated how I take a student through the entire flight on the ground along with headings, altitudes, radio frequencies, what to say/when to say it, and a run-through using the actual radios. Once on the flight, candidate did well. There is very little in the CFI program that will actually provide the very much needed practical teaching experience by the candidate. The problem lies in the process and entrenched administration of the FAA not the potential instructors.

An honest to goodness FAA CFI program to produce would require an admission that the programs of the past have been wrong and misdirected. If the precepts of 60-14 are to be a part of the program, then book learning alone will not suffice. I question that there is any innate teaching ability, teaching sensitivity can be taught, acquired, and passed on. A 60-14 program could provide a 3-person curriculum such as I practiced on the above flight. As many of you know I have always taught with tape recorders on during preflight ground school and flight. Maybe, all instruction should be video taped. An instructor should not be required to learn 'the hard way' as to how far into a problem situation to go before taking over.


Last Modified December 4, ©2020 TAGE.COM

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