All posts tagged 'flight instruction'

Preparing for Spin Training

Well well well.....the time has come for me and I am so excited. Almost immediately after I got my multi rating I started on CFI training, and so far it's been an absolute blast. A lot of work but such a fun adventure. And what does every CFI applicant have to do as part of their curriculum?

You guessed it....spin training.

I won't lie, I'm actually pretty nervous about it. The thought of spiraling towards the ground isn't necessarily a settling thought. 

But, I want to be prepared so I can have a good experience. Studying procedures to break out of a spin and understanding what induced a spin in the first place is a good place to start. So, if you're like me and soon to do spin training (or know you will have to in the future), let's discuss a few things.

First, what IS a spin exactly?

Well, you just need two magical ingredients to induce a spin. A stall, and lack of coordination in the plane. Kind of scary to think that's all it takes!

So visual you're teaching a student a power-on stall (I find this one is hardest to keep coordinated). You have full throttle and a high pitch-up attitude. The stall is induced and you look over to realize the ball is wayyyy out of the center of the turn coordinator. You don't recover from the buffet fast enough and with the ball still out of center, you can literally feel the plane wanting to start its roll (this is actually how it would happen). This is because one of the wings stalled first, and so it dropped. What keeps the spin rotating is one of the wings regaining lift while the other (the dropped wing) remains stalled. So what do you do next (besides scream if we're being honest)?

PARE PARE PARE PARE PARE PARE PARE PARE PARE

Did I mention this acronym called PARE?

PARE is what's going to save your life and break the spin so you can recover. Here's what it stands for:

Power idle

Ailerons neutral

Rudder full opposite the direction of the turn

Elevator down (briskly push that yoke forward)

I'll be writing a blog post after I complete my spin training more in depth on these concepts, so we'll discuss then WHY exactly these procedures exist and how they break the spin.

I've been taught PARE since the beginning of my private training and have never actually performed it, so next week will be interesting. But every time someone even mentions a spin, my mind is screaming PARE.

Pictured below is the plane I'll be performing mine in, so I'll also be working to get that tailwheel endorsement signed off!

My flight school, which is Harvey-Rihn out of T41, uses this Decathlon for all their CFI students spin training. 

Need help finding a flight school to do yours out of? Or maybe you're just wanting anything from recurrent training to a new license? Use our Flight School Directory to find a flight school near you. This directory is kept up-to-date and is NOT just for finding schools within the USA, there's other countries on that list as well. 

Anyone have any good spin training stories or tips for flying? Share below in the comments!! We'd love to hear. Stay tuned for the next post on how it goes. 

It’s Not You, It’s Your Instructor: Are You a Victim of Bad Flight Instruction?


Did you start flight training and not finish? Or maybe you started, took a long hiatus, and then returned to it in a better place at a better time.

There are many reasons people quit flight training. They get busy, start families, run out of money. Life happens. These are acceptable setbacks. But there are many other setbacks and challenges during flight training that, in my opinion, are unacceptable, and the most frustrating of these is poor instruction.

I recently had a conversation with a medical professional about flying. The conversation started out like many of them often do - we discussed our respective professions, and he mentioned that he began flight training when he was younger but never finished. When I asked him why, he described a myriad of flight training problems and challenges not uncommon to new students, but that he accepted as his own problems. He just wasn’t a good pilot, he said.

At first, it would seem that this particular person might have given up too quickly or too easily, but further into our discussion, I began to see a bigger story - a relatively common story that as a flight instructor, I really despise hearing.

Here’s a perfectly capable person- a medical professional and a seemingly well-respected business owner in the community - who is led to believe he can’t fly. "Some people just have the natural ability to fly, I guess, and I’m not one of them," he said. In discussing the topic further, though, it was clear that whatever instruction he had accomplished with his instructors in the first few hours wasn’t productive, wasn’t positive, and gave him a bad perception of flying.

Throughout our conversation, I discovered that he had been physically uncomfortable in the airplane (an airplane not really ideal for flight training, to begin with). I learned that he was unable to reach the rudder pedals, that he was all but reprimanded when he lost sight of the airport and was unable to navigate back to it on the first lesson. He said he wasn’t offered ground training and didn’t feel like he progressed.

Have you heard similar complaints before? Me, too. Is it possible that he was a student who showed up unprepared or didn’t make his instructor aware of his inability to reach the rudder pedals? Sure. But a bad pilot after only a few hours? Nah. There are outliers, to be sure, but the majority of flight students who walk into a flight school are eager to learn and capable of learning. We need to do better.

In a short conversation, I couldn’t convince him that he’s wrong, that he was likely (and unfortunately) the product of terrible instruction, and that it’s not like that everywhere. But I tried. I tried to reassure him that there are more professional instructors out there, more comfortable aircraft, simpler aircraft, and something called ground school, all of which would help alleviate many of his challenges, misconceptions and insecurities.

It might be too late for this person - I hope not - but if we’re serious about saving general aviation, if we want flight training to be a robust and successful industry within general aviation, we have to do better. Flight training is a serious venture, and one we need to approach cautiously, with safety in mind. But after ensuring safety - rather, along with the assurance of safety - flying should be fun. As instructors, we should be teaching students, encouraging students, and making aviation safe and enjoyable for students.

When it’s not fun, students quit. When they’re belittled, students quit. When they don’t feel safe, students quit.

I wonder how many other prospective pilots are out there with similar stories about initial flight training? How many of you started flight training and were faced with similar challenges and problems? How many of you quit and maybe found your way back somehow, eventually, after moving to a new flight school or befriending a new instructor? How many of you haven’t yet found your way back?

If you’ve had a bad experience with initial flight training, I urge you to find a new place to fly, or a new instructor to fly with. It’s not like that everywhere.

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