A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
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may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
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didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
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Catching up on an aviation-oriented internet chatline I found a
thread discussing the Cory Lidle crash.
Stepping into the discussion of factors affected by having an
instructor on board I quipped: "Providing flight instruction is one
of the potentially most hazardous things a pilot can do." A
list-reader asked me off-line to elaborate.
The CFI's World
Imagine getting into:
- an airplane you may never have been in before,
- with someone you do not know,
- often (in my case, anyway) in unfamiliar airspace,
- and presenting tasks the student either has never done before
or very likely has not practiced in a very long time. Do this in a
changing and unpredictable environment involving weather, traffic,
airspace considerations and air traffic control.
Now, present a series of lessons, practice and evaluations while
monitoring the total environment and providing guidance and quality
instruction to the student. Your attention must be divided between
the outside world, ATC communications and negotiations, navigation,
chart review, traffic avoidance, aircraft performance, student
performance and student psychology and mindset--"is he/she
learning, and if not, what do I need to do differently to ensure
Can you see why I think flight simulation and part-task trainers
should be a part of every pilot's learning experience, not just for
the turbine crowd?
Getting sucked in
It's no wonder that many midair collisions happen while one
airplane's crew is engaged in dual IFR instruction, or that so many
CFIs fail to catch a forgotten landing gear extension until the
belly hits the pavement. It's far too easy of a CFI to get sucked
into teaching the student and scanning the panel (being
"instructor") instead of scanning outside for traffic (being
"safety manager"). That's why one tenet of instruction is (or at
least should be) that instruction itself has to be secondary to the
instructor's safety responsibilities. Haven't you ever heard "the
cockpit is a poor classroom"? Noise and communication aren't the
issue -- overall distraction and division of attention are.
Aero-tip of the day: Instructors, remember that
safety is your primary duty when providing instruction. The
attitude you present will rub off on your students, so even if
formal instruction needs to take a back seat at times the overall
lesson is more effective.