All posts tagged 'flight training'

Tips for Becoming a CFI That You Don't Learn in Training

Okay...some of these tips you actually are likely to learn in training BUT I'm writing to give you all of these just in case you don't. 

1) Congrats on deciding to become a CFI! It's a lot of work, it's not always the easiest job, but it is so rewarding and is a great way to give back to aviation. If there is a NUMBER ONE tip that I can give you, it's to make each flight lesson fun and positive if you can.

Now...by this I don't mean to make it your goal to have students laughing and to "baby their feelings" so to speak. But students learn through positive affirmation and feeling association. If you make every lesson 100% serious the entire time where they never have fun, make them feel like they're a terrible pilot by only giving negative feedback and create a stressful environment for them to learn in....they're not going to learn well and may even leave you for another instructor. 

Flight training is dangerous and expensive, meaning you always want to be safe and stay as productive as possible to keep someone moving forward in their training. But this can be done while having a good time and having students look forward to lessons with you.

You'll learn this when reading through Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI's). But this is what you should take away from it. It's important to understand how students learn. Thank back to you when you were a student pilot. What did you like from your training and what did you not like? What constituted a productive day for you and made you confident in your flying? Take these characteristics and use it to make yourself a better instructor.

 This meme of Bob Ross is comical but it applies to this! If a student has a bad landing that wasn't super dangerous and broke anything but it just could've been a lot better.....are you going to yell at them or give them a good critique to make it better next time? Think about what will be most beneficial for THEM. This is their training and it's our job to make it great. If they keep making the same mistake over and over again....maybe it's time for a firm critique that lets them know you're serious. If this is the first time they did this....let them know to stay away from those "happy little impacts" ;)

2) Learn to have patience. Mannnnnnnn ohhhhhhhhhhhh mannnnnnnnnnnnn did I wish someone had prepared me for this more! There will almost ALWAYS be those students who don't study, don't pay attention to what you teach, don't take your advice....the list goes on. It's not worth your peace to lose your nerve every single time it happens. If you have a bad student you have a bad student. At some point the effort to shape them into something better ends and you give them an ultimatum of either: make a change or don't continue flight training. At the end of the day you still have to put yourself first. Becoming an instructor shouldn't mean you lose your sanity. So you HAVE to have patience with people.

3) Learn to have a crazy schedule. As much as you will try to have a set work schedule to follow, it just is hard to keep. Students will cancel, aircraft will break, weather will turn bad...the list goes on. Expect there to always be change and embrace (and that goes for the rest of your career in aviation too). 

4) Take a day off here and there and treat yourself. For anyone who watches Parks & Rec, it's like Donna and Tom would do: treat yo self day! Because you deserve it. This will be something that you'll learn is essential 2-3 months into being an instructor with a pretty good going schedule. Like I said earlier, being an instructor is not easy. You can have a crazy work schedule, bad students who test your sanity, you'll fight with weather and maintenance on almost a daily basis etc. And remember this: your students will almost always want to fly but that doesn't mean you have to. Learn to say no! If you work 12 hour days 7 days a week, you'll be burned out before you know it. And then you'll need a serious treat yo self day. So, take a day off here and there from flying and go do something you enjoy doing that allows you to relax. It'll be amazing the refresh it can give you. 

And of course, the best way to treat yourself is to buy a plane from your favorite website ever Globalair.com. It's okay...we know you love us, you don't have to admit it out loud ;)

If you have any tips you want to add or personal learning experiences that shaped you into a better instructor feel free to add! We're an aviation community and all here to help each other. 

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds!

How to Overcome Plateaus in Student Training

Students reach plateaus during flight training for all different types of reasons. 

  • - Money
  • - Time
  • - Opportunity
  • - Studying
  • - Negative training

... and the list goes on. There are multiple factors that can have a negative effect on flight training. Let's talk about how to overcome them.

Pictured above is one of our students James that recently passed a check ride. James is one of the common examples of reaching a learning plateau. He actually had all the ground knowledge he needed, studied at home, had the finances to fly...but he just didn't have the time. 

Just a small insight into him, his full time job requires him to leave the country for extended periods of time (aka no flight training while he's gone). 

This meant lessons had to be redone after forgetting what was previously learned, solo endorsements had to be reissued constantly etc. 

BUT he persevered! The timing finally lined up, endorsements stayed current, and the check ride was passed like a breeze on his first try.

Now let's talk about some other examples of why students reach plateaus. One of the most common that we (as instructors) see is they study at home like they're supposed to, have the time opportunity and finances to fly....and then just keep struggling to get a maneuver down in flight. The actual performance of something is where the plateau occurs.

Here's what's not to do: we always hear the famous saying "if you don't succeed try and try again." Well, this is true but not in this case. Take a break from trying it and go do something else for a change. 

Let's say for example as a commercial student you're struggling with chandelles. Don't spend 5 flight lessons in a row trying to get them down! For the next 2-3 lessons go do literally anything else BUT chandelles, and then go back to try them again. Most of the time you're just overthinking the maneuver and can't get past the barrier that's unconsciously stopping you. Taking a break from it and then coming back to try it again will 99% of the time help accomplish the goal. 

The next common barrier....finances. Let's be honest, flight training is not cheap no matter how you look at it. Having to try and pay for each lesson as you go can slow down training a lot...especially if you can only afford one lesson each week or two. The learning curve best happens when you fly 2-3 times a week. So if you reach a learning plateau, one of the reasons could be you're just not flying often enough. The solution to this: SAVE UP. Save up to where you can get through multiple lessons at a time without having to take a break and you'll see a world of a difference. 

To add to the fact that you should fly often, let's keep flying as much as we can during this pandemic! If you can afford it, help out your FBOs by stopping by and buying some fuel on your trips. Aviation is struggling during the virus right now so little things like this help make a big difference. 

To conclude, there are various situations that can cause a learning plateau and the solution depends on what's causing it. If you're experiencing this right now feel free to comment and let's come up with a game plan to overcome it! 

Happy landings to everyone,

-Addi

Should I Become a Pilot?

Well, the very short answer is yes. Yes 1,000 times.

Becoming a pilot is the most fun, insightful journey and deciding to extend that to making it a career makes that the journey of a lifetime (see what I did there ;) ).

But the harsh truth is not everyone is meant to be a pilot. Flight training isn't easy and can become very time consuming. Those who make it through have to be dedicated, motivated and self-disciplined. Even then, someone can have all the dedication it takes and just not have the skills needed to safely fly an aircraft. These skills are partly developed over time and partly come from the abilities you carry as a person. Let's talk about them:

1. Can you multi task?

Being a safe pilot means you have to be able to handle multiple things at once. Takeoff is a perfect example, especially on an IFR flight when you're single-pilot. Power settings are in, gear comes up, you're having to monitor all the engine instruments have good readings, ATC comes in with new instructions that you have to repeat back and then comply with, and throughout all this you're still having to fly the plane and be ready for any emergency. Imagine doing this in a jet...all that happens in about less than 20 seconds. 

Even as a VFR only pilot in a small fixed-gear plane it's still busy. During the takeoff you're ready to abort it or do an emergency landing at any time, respond back to ATC and comply, then don't forget after takeoff checklists. This sounds simple but in the air it can be a lot to handle. I find students struggle the most with remembering their after takeoff checklist and on a cross country keeping up with their checkpoints as soon as we're off the ground. It's like as soon as you rotate, everything is forgotten and you get tunnel vision.

2. Can you work under pressure?

With everything I just described on multi tasking, this doesn't come without a drop of sweat or two. As you're keeping up with all of your tasks you can feel the pressure sitting on your shoulders to get everything done and keep flying the plane safely. During flight training, you'll feel the pressure of your instructor sitting next to you watching everything you do and being ready to point out the first mistake you make (it's literally our job, that's how you learn!). You can have an instructor who points them out nicely, or not so nice one.....but at some point you have to learn to be able to do it all yourself. The same pressure is there when you carry passengers. They may not know as much of what's going on as your instructor did, but sometimes you can still feel them watching and listening to everything you do. They don't know how to fly, so they're relying on you to get them somewhere safely!

Now imagine if an emergency occurs, the pressure is REALLY on there. This isn't being said to scare you, but a good pilot always expects the unexpected and handles it without panic. They go through their checklists with ease, keep everyone onboard calm and then neutralize the situation as much as possible in order to land safely. Remember that story about Captain Tammie Jo Shults who lost an engine on a Southwest flight? Here is the article link of her story and an attached audio link. Listen to how calm her voice is. If she didn't say there was an emergency, you would've never guessed what had been going on. 

3. Are you motivated and self-disciplined? 

This one is most important when it comes to flight training. I see time and time again students who come in and say "I want to be a pilot" and then 6 months later they have like 2 flight lessons under their belt. Let's be honest, flight lessons aren't cheap. If you're going to pay out of pocket try and save up a lot first and apply for as many scholarships as possible, this way you don't have to slow down training and only be able to pay for one lesson at a time. Second is when you have the finances available, schedule flight lessons for at least several times a week and show up to each one prepared! It will do you no good to rarely fly (like once a month for example) and to never study. Don't show up to each lesson and depend on your instructor to teach you everything. Teach yourself as much as you can at home and let them fill in the gaps. This helps you progress much faster and also save money if finances are tight. 

Being able to multi task, work under pressure, be motivated and be self-disciplined are some of the most important factors that create a good pilot. Of course there's a few others that could fall into desired aspects, but without these you'll never "lift off the ground."

Think you meet these though and want to become a pilot? Go for it and don't let anything stop you. If you need some help paying for lessons go to Globalair.com/scholarships/ and apply for ours! Applications accepted until August 15th this year. 

Have anymore questions about if being a pilot is right for you? Maybe some tips to add? Comment below! 

Counteracting a Bad Landing

How to counteract and prevent a rough landing:

Go around. That's it. That's the whole post.

Just kidding! Somewhat....

Okay we've all had those days where we landed the plane so rough that we just taxied back in silence and thoroughly inspected the landing gear afterwards. In fact, my student and I had one yesterday so bad that we ended up popping the left main gear tire. It happens! You live and you learn. So let's talk about it.

First things first: set up for a good approach by having a good traffic pattern. Get your 'before landing' checklist done BEFORE getting established in the pattern. That's part of staying ahead of the plane. The less you're having to rush and scramble to make sure everything is complete, the better your odds are of being ready and stable.

Bad Landings

                                       KEFD 2/28/2020

In the picture above we're getting ready to land on 35L at Ellington, so we're entering at a 45 degree right downwind. By this point, all the 'before landing' items were done and our passenger briefing was complete so we could focus on the actual landing.

The second thing is to fly the actual traffic pattern. By this I mean take it back to your rectangular course maneuver: if there are winds, then establish the proper crabbing correction to actually hold your downwind, base, etc. If you're fighting winds the whole time and getting too close or too far from the runway, then by the time you turn final, you won't be lined up with centerline. 

Now, when you actually turn final, work to maintain centerline the WHOLE TIME (not just as you're coming into flare) and fight for the right glide slope. What if you're too high? Don't accept it and chop some power out. If you're too low, add power in. If there is a PAPI or VASI lighting system then make yourself hold the red and white colors. The main thing about being on final is not to accept anything that isn't "perfect" and fight to get the airplane where you want it to be. 

You keep descending on final and now it's getting time to flare: the key part. Don't start the flare too low and especially not too early because you have the danger of stalling too high. Know your plane and know when to flare it. Obviously, something like a C-130 won't flare at the same time as a C172. For the sake of this post and discussing flight training, we'll pretend we're flying a typical GA plane like the C172.

Don't flare until you're about 10 feet about the runway. This is when you transition your eyes from your landing point to the end of the runway and start working the nose up and power out. Remember, the goal is to have the nose wheel touchdown as late as possible. I've found the most common mistakes are that people don't pull the yoke/stick back far enough and the nose wheel hits first, and they jerk the controls rather than smoothly pull it back. Part of a smooth landing is always being smooth with your controls. SMOOTHLY work that nose up and keep pulling until the plane touches down. For the most part, your yoke/stick should be pulled almost all the way back. After the side wheels touch down, just hold the controls and easily start relaxing them to let the nose wheel come down on its own. 

Let's say you do this and still balloon or bounce. What do you do?

That's easy: GO AROUND. Every single time you should execute a go-around because you don't know how hard your second touchdown will be. 

Stepping away from my CFI role and preaching about go-arounds, we all know we'll have those days where we still try and stick with the landing. If it's a small and very minor balloon, hold the controls where they are and then as the plane comes back down go back to pulling back SMOOTHLY again and you should have a nice touchdown (again this is for a balloon that's small and under about 8 feet). 

If you bounce 9/10 times, it's because you hit all 3 wheels at once rather than the nose wheel last so keep pulling back until your nose is up more. Again, this is only for a minor bounce under a few feet. If the plane bounces back up really high, throw in the power and GO AROUND. 

I can't preach go-arounds enough. They not only give you another chance at trying to grease the landing, but they can also save the plane from being damaged. 

The last and most important thing aside from pitch attitude in the flare is airspeed. Watch your airspeed and know your Vref. Let's say Vref is 70kts and you look down, having not even flared yet you're at 60kts. You know what will happen? An early stall and a rough touchdown. Now, let's say the airspeed is at 80kts rather than 70kts. This time you'll float and have the danger of running out of runway before being able to touchdown and bring the plane to a stop. 

Landing is a game of airspeed and altitude. Once you get these down, then get the pitch attitude where it needs to be in the flare. Whenever you get a really smooth and soft landing, look up and take a mental picture of where your nose is in relation to the horizon. THAT'S what you want to work for every single time. 

There's a lot to talk about with landings so you can expect more blog posts on them in the future, but I covered all the basic things that'll keep you safe and smooth. 

Have any tips to add? Feel free to contribute below!

Until next time, Happy Landings!

Transitioning Between Low and High Wing Planes in Primary Flight Training

As a flight instructor at a school with both low and high wing planes, I've found that students ranging from pre-solo private to commercial have issues with swapping between planes. It's not that they have issues in flying the planes, but it's trying to get them to learn to fly in both rather than just one type.

To go more in-depth, for example, most people prefer either the Grumman Cheetahs or Tigers or the Cessna 172s. If they've flown in one type but not the other, it's almost a battle to get them to jump in the other type. I've found this is due to a confidence issue. While they don't admit it, it's because they know how to fly one type of plane and don't think they will be successful in another so they don't even want to try. 

So, let's talk about some of the main differences between the planes starting from preflight to landing.

Believe it or not, most general aviation planes almost all fly the same. Going back to the example of a Grumman verse a Cessna, these planes fly almost exactly the same even when it comes to landing. They are not two completely different worlds, and in fact, I tell my students the more planes you can fly, the better off you are for a check ride and the better skills you develop for real-world flying! It makes you a better pilot. 

On a typical Cessna, you lower the flaps on preflight all the way down and then bring them up after engine start. In-flight you bring the flaps down in 10-degree increments and can bring the first notch down outside of the white arc (Vfe) range on the airspeed indicator. 

On a Grumman, you usually bring the flaps down then back up on a run-up/before takeoff check. Still in increments, however, it's a switch by your leg rather than by the yoke and you HAVE to be within the Vfe range in-flight to even lower the first 10 degrees. 

The next "big" difference between low and high wing planes is the visual sight picture when you look outside: the wings are in different places!

Whether you're doing ground reference maneuvers or entering the pattern to land, you use the same area on the plane to look outside and measure the distance. On a high wing, you place your marker about 3/4th the way up the wing strut. On the low wing planes, just use the wingtip (because after all, it's not like you can see below the wing this time). This sounds like it may be a huge factor, but give it 2 minutes and you're used to the change in the new plane. Trust me on this. 

The last change: landings.

Again, either put your wing tip or top of the wing strut on the runway as you enter downwind and there's your sight picture! Bring your flaps and power back as set by the POH and keep your descent coming along with the proper speeds (also set by the POH). If you can get a stabilized approach, most GA planes will land the same here: main wheels touch down first and nosewheel last. Pitch attitude will be similar, again especially with the Grummans and Cessnas, and by the time you touchdown airspeed will have bled off appropriately and your yoke will be almost all the way back. 

If you're reading this because you're in flight training and needing to swap between model planes due to maintenance/availability issues, don't be upset. It's going to develop better skills for you in flying and the planes will likely fly almost identical so don't sweat it! 

Have any more tips to add to help someone in flight training who's having to swap between the two types? Comment below!

Happy Landings,

-Addi

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