Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Training ...Training ...Training

The powerful growl of the Cirrus's 310HP engine was a delight to the ears, as we climbed through 1500 feet out of Guernsey Airport, we were cleared just below the clouds to 3000ft, ...... "OK," I said, "I want you to imagine, wisps of white smoke in the cockpit, that seems to be coming from behind the radio stack, definitely an electrical fire, you can smell the burning plastic." What do you do? Easy perhaps sitting at your desk but hurtling through the sky doing 140kts, having to conform to Air Traffic Control and carry on climbing on track and answer the question ummmmm..........
Last week I had the chance of flying with an experienced private pilot and putting him though his paces for his American Flight Review, a flight which he has to do every 2 years with a Flight Instructor, to be successful Barry had to show/demonstrate to me competency at the level of his licence. The flights are usually good fun, well for me as the instructor but hot, hard and intense work for the pilot under check, as the pressure is on for him to show me what he knows and to demonstrate what he can do. I give him various scenarios, for example..... "now I want you to land at Cherbourg, there is an obstruction on the runway, so land in the minimum distance possible, imagine the airfield is now short and starts at the first runway markings or perhaps the air speed indicator failed on take-off ( I shall cover it up - helps the imagination part, so you cannot see it but I can), now fly the pattern safely? Guess the airspeed when I ask you and land the aircraft normally."  Demonstration of a skill successfully, especially under a tad of duress shows you have reached the required standard and it will mean they will get my signature in their log-book. What I love about flight reviews is the chance to add in personal experiences, look at ways perhaps a task could be could be done differently and/or better. To-gether we work at not only demonstrating to a standard - to tick a box but encouraging greater skills acquisition.  One of the saddest things I sometimes meet especially outside of the cockpit is folk who feel they know it all and/or are not prepared to listen and learn.  I remember being a new flying instructor, ink on the licence barely dry and the 'student assigned to me for teaching was the Chief Instructor - who trained military Flight Instructors, he flew the impressive Apache attack helicopters - of 101st airborne.  My job was to teach him how to fly a fixed wing aircraft to commercial standards. He was way above me in experience and flying hours but I knew how to fly a light aircraft to commercial standards and he did not but he wanted to learn how to do it. He listened and learnt and so did I. It was two way experience and it was fun.
So one of the things we need to do till the day we die is regularly go and take 'flight reviews' in all areas of our lives, demonstrate competency but also listen, learn & perhaps teach, as well as be taught.
I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks......