26 August 2008

Training the Trainer

Well it has been a while and I've been studying and training and studying some more and training some more.

What I've been working on is the Instrument Ground Instructor written exam and I'm just about there. One more week or so and I will take that exam and then go get my IGI certificate since I've already passed the other two required writtens - the FOI (Fundamentals Of Instructing) and the FIA (Flight Instructor Airplane). If you've been reading this blog with any regularity, in aviation a lot, and I mean a LOT of acronyms are used.

I've also been flying with students a fair amount and I'm getting more and more comfortable with being in the right seat and teaching different manuevers.

At TailWind Aviation as part of our training, which is more intense and focused than many other flight training programs, we like to give our first-flight students the option of playing "fighter pilot" or "roller coaster." In reality they aren't much different - steep climbs, descents, and turns, stuff like that. Generally, the fighter pilot will tend to do more turns while the roller coaster will do more climbs and descents. At least, that's how I figure it. In any case it's really a lot of fun and very quickly builds a student's confidence that yes, I really can control an airplane!

You might think it's kind of scary letting a new student do these manuevers on their first flight but the interesting thing is that the student won't go beyond his or her comfort zone, which normally is well within anything the instructor has experienced. So in general there's not much to worry about because the new student doesn't know enough to do anything really dangerous.

Not to mention that the instructor (me) is in the other seat and is always alert to any possible developing situations. And more importantly, I have a low tolerance for pain.

When we think the student is having enough fun we put them back to work on turns to headings and holding altitudes and such. Can't let them have TOO much fun now can we?

Another unusual feature of our training program is that we require the new student to take the written exam either before or shortly after their first flight. Whether he/she is training for Recreational, Sport, or Private Pilot certificate, the written exam is passed very early in the program. The reason for this is that we want to be certain that the student has the focus and motivation to complete the entire program within our short timelines. That is one of the hallmarks of our accelerated training - we get students finished well before many other programs and our goal is to get their certificates right at the FAA minimum number of hours.

There are additional techniques that we use to assure that students are indeed getting superior training to become confident and competent pilots, and as we go along I'll tell you about them.

Can't let all the goodies out at once, you know?

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